Local breweries key to thriving communities

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Event day: SIBA’s new report will be officially launched at Beer X in Liverpool
Event day: SIBA’s new report will be officially launched at Beer X in Liverpool

Related tags Craft beer Cask ale Cellar management Social responsibility

Communities are given a positive boost if a local independent brewery is operated well say 80% of people, according to a new report published today (Thursday 16 March).

The data has also revealed more people than ever are discovering their local brewery bar or taproom and the spirit of togetherness is shared by 98% of brewers surveyed who consider the local community to be important to them.

The SIBA Craft Beer Report 2023​ features new brewery survey data, industry analysis and commentary, as well specially commissioned consumer research via YouGov.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) chief executive Andy Slee said: “Our members’ sales footprint has transformed over recent years as brewers look to meet the growing local demand for quality independent craft beer.”

Sales direct to customers

He continued: “More than a quarter of independent brewer sales are now direct to consumers, with over 40% now running their own bar or taproom as well as seeing an increased trend in online sales.”

The report also highlights the challenges the industry is facing and provides a post-Covid health check for a struggling on-trade with beer sales via pubs yet to recover to previous levels.

“Beer sales are still well short of pre-pandemic levels, thanks to the stuttering recovery of the nation’s pubs and the pressures on people’s spending from the cost-of-living crisis,” Slee added.

Global control

The report shows pub visits fell sharply in the past 12 months with 20% of the population not visiting a pub at all – traditionally a critical outlet for local beers and independent breweries.

Access to pubs is also cited as a challenge for small brewers with global companies continuing to control the nation’s beer taps according to the report, which added small independent breweries lead the way in innovation yet they only account for 6% of the UK beer market.

Slee said: “It’s vital small independent breweries are able to deliver the beers the research clearly shows are in-demand, whether that’s via their own taprooms and shops or via the vital pub trade.”

The SIBA Craft Beer Report 2023 will be officially launched today (16 March 2023) at beer and brewing trade event BeerX UK in Liverpool.



1. A sale direct to consumers, whether by pub, bar, website or taproom, is the most profitable route for most brewers. These sales seem to be growing fastest with over a quarter of all output now sold through these channels.

1. SIBA member breweries saw average production recover further in 2022, after the devastating impact of the pandemic in 2020, but it remains 11% below 2019 levels.

2. Cask beer is a fresh, hand-crafted product, sold in reusable containers, often in local communities. SIBA members appear to be leading cask beer recovery.

2. Brewers were only able to increase their prices by 2%, which represents a real-term fall in prices in an environment of double digit inflation.

3. A growing number of consumers believe genuine craft beer should be produced by an independent brewery. Only 3% believe it can be made by a global brewer.

3. There has been a significant fall in the overall number of consumers drinking beer, especially among women, and more than a fifth of consumers say they no longer drink any alcohol.

4. Nine out of 10 SIBA members would recommend SIBA membership to a friend, which presents SIBA with a huge opportunity given we still represent less than half of all registered independent brewers.

4. Pub visits fell sharply with more than a fifth of all consumers not visiting a pub in the past 12 months. This means broadening routes to market is essential for brewery survival.

5. Independent brewers are local heroes. Eight out of 10 consumers say a well-run independent brewery has a positive effect on its local community, and 98% of SIBA brewers consider their local community to be important to them. Two thirds of SIBA brewers are planning to grow this year.

5. The craft beer sector is still failing to make in-roads on the issue of inclusion and diversity with a continued and very significant over-representation of white males in the workforce.


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